At halftime of the the LA Galaxy’s game Wednesday against the Portland Timbers in Portland, with the season essentially hanging in the balance, GM Dennis te Kloese conducted an interview with broadcaster ESPN.
Asked directly about whether Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s job was in danger, Te Kloese responded, “I think it’s not the time to discuss anything on the manager position, on anybody within the organization before we evaluate anything going forward.”
Less than 24 hours later, the evaluation was made, as Schelotto was fired as manager by the Galaxy on Thursday, the club in last place in the Western Conference, having lost eight of their last 10 games.
It was clear the pressure was ramping up around Schelotto. Club supporters had begun writing open letters criticizing a season in which positives flickered briefly before being snuffed out, again and again. Social media had been critical of the club for most of the season based on the on-field performance, which was dreadful aside from a four-game winning streak upon the local return to play in an unprecedented 2020 season.
Front office members, including AEG president Dan Beckerman, were conspicuously shown on camera repeatedly in recent games, and Te Kloese’s decision to travel to Portland for Wednesday’s game may have been normal but seems generally unusual by MLS standards, another sign that pressure was mounting for Schelotto.
Schelotto’s final press conference with the Galaxy was abrupt, the head coach taking a single question in English, essentially ignoring it to make a statement, then making a similar statement in Spanish before hurriedly moving on following a bitter 5-2 loss.
“I came here to say we have three games left,” Schelotto said in English. “We have some possibilities; we need to win these three games and wait for all the results to get to playoffs. Talking about tonight, I think I am very disappointed with what we did in the first half especially. We gave them a lot of advantage and I prefer to think about [what’s ahead], just one week and three games. We need to win. We have some possibilities and we need to go forward and that’s it. I think there’s nothing more important than that to say tonight.
“Good night, thank you very much for understanding.”
Following Schelotto’s firing, Te Kloese held a press conference Thursday afternoon, and repeatedly said he wants to be respectful of Schelotto.
“I do think like anybody in our organization, we’re always under constant, constant evaluation,” Te Kloese told reporters. “There’s no secret about anything and if the results are are not good and the results haven’t been good, or even close to being good that is obviously a worry. I want to be very respectful to a highly recognized manager as Guillermo, who had great results at both Lanús in Argentina and great results at Boca Juniors which is an enormous club in Argentina, and, as a former player, having reached the highest possible in this league. So I think the thinking process and time has been obviously, to give as much opportunities as possible but at some point it is difficult and sounds as a cliché but then the results, obviously, are part of an evaluation.”
The bottom line is the results weren’t good enough, and Te Kloese admitted he didn’t think the roster is a last-place roster, something that is unquestionably true. Schelotto was a pragmatist who was not especially practical, his offensive strategy of either crossing into oblivion or playing hero ball with Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Cristian Pavón was not the stuff MLS champions are made of, and the defense was usually second-best physically, mentally and tactically. A change had to be made.
The next question is obvious: What’s next? Will there be more housecleaning in the front office moving forward, or will the organization close ranks again and hope a new coach and some new players will ring in the change for the better? The Galaxy have completely stuttered since Bruce Arena left and they are now about to kick off their third (or fourth) rebuild effort in just four years.
One item was addressed Thursday with Schelotto’s departure, but as Te Kloese said, they are always evaluating. Everyone will be watching to see if the right decisions continue to be made.
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Sabreena Merchant contributed reporting to this article.